Finding the right credit card is like finding the right car to drive. A car’s sole purpose—driving from point A to point B—is why most purchase a car in the first place, but the bells and whistles that come with the different makes and models is why others stop to contemplate their decision. For example, if a driver works in construction and needs to haul equipment and materials back and forth, they’ll more than likely purchase a truck with a large truck bed than a two-door convertible. The two-door convertible—although will get the driver from point A to point B—is not practical for a person who needs it for hauling construction material. It’s nice to look at but just won’t work in this driver’s current lifestyle. Same rule applies for new credit card applicants. If you’re a broke college student who can’t afford to travel anytime soon, a mileage credit card may be your two-door convertible. A mileage credit card may seem attractive and luxurious but what use is it to rack up mileage points when you have no place to go (let alone the funds). Although credit cards, in general, have the best intentions for users, individualistic lifestyle factors need to be taken into consideration before one takes the leap in signing up for a credit card.

First things first, get your credit score

Sure, access to private airport lounges, cash advances, no late penalty fees and 24-hour concierge service sounds nice. But if your credit score isn’t up to par (over 750) and if you’re not bringing in the bacon as much as the credit card company would like you to, then you can narrow down your credit card choice a bit more. Once you figure out your credit score, and ballpark the amount that you’d spend per month or year, you can slim down the list of credit cards that will work for your range of expenses and credit limit. Young adults applying for their first credit card may be required to apply with a parent guarantor. This may help increase a young person’s eligibility in credit card approval.  

Pay Close Attention to the APR

Say you have a major purchase to make such as a laptop or appliances for your new kitchen renovation. The purchase needs to be made however you’ll only be able to pay the minimum amount that’s due each month because you can’t afford to pay it in full. In this popular scenario, the best credit card to apply for should be one with little to no annual percentage rate, also known as APR. For example, some credit cards highlight this perk of “0% APR” for the “first 12 months…” If such advertisements come up for certain credit cards, a second glance needs to be made. It may sound too good to be true, however, if followed methodically and responsibly, this option may be the best one for the time being if you plan on only paying the bare minimum required for the monthly credit card bill. Same rule applies if you need to carry over a balance from one credit card to another. There may be a balance transfer fee however the headache of having to pay your minimum amount plus an additional interest fee each month will be gone and allow you more time to save.

Who Are You? What Do You Want?

Knowing yourself and the intention for your credit card usage is important before you decide that it’s the right one for you. Perhaps this may be a great way for you to hunker down with your bank statement to see if there are any expenditure trends that arise. If you drive a lot for work, maybe a gas credit card would be best for you. You may receive bonus points or free gas for charging your tank from a particular gas station. If you’re one to frequent a particular store chain such as Target or Costco, maybe their credit card would be your best option. There are some folks, for example, who can’t help but shop at a particular retail store. If their spending habits don’t change, perhaps a credit card from that retail store will be the right credit card as they might as well receive bonus points and discounts on special items for being a loyal retail customer. If a person travels a lot for work, or plans to travel in the near future, maybe a credit card that offers mileage rewards points will best fit their needs. If a credit card applicant will surely pay off their entire statement each month, with no balance carry over, then a rewards credit card that offers luxurious gifts, prizes and cash back options may be in their best interest.

Whatever credit card you decide upon, know that the benefits of that credit card can be reached if there are realistic intentions made and set as the overall goal. Once the goal is set, it can be fulfilled and accomplished with razor sharp focus.

  • If you’ve scored a credit card that boasts zero percent APR for a specific duration of time, focus on paying down your credit card bill while there’s no required interest payment
  • If you’ve decided on a mileage credit card, reap the rewards by using mileage accumulated from your credit card for trips abroad
  • If you’ve snagged yourself a rewards credit card, make sure to pay off your statement each month and you’ll be rewarded in luxurious prizes just for using your credit card
  • If you’re an avid customer to a particular store, enrolling in their credit card program may lead to earning possible points and bonuses for continuing to be a loyal customer

There is no right or wrong credit card, only a right and wrong credit card for your specific needs. Once you’ve figured out your needs from a credit card, you’ll be set to achieve your financial goals. By understanding your options, based upon your spending habits and current lifestyle, you can find the card that will be the right fit for you.